Understanding deliveries

You are probably reading this page because you have enquired about the delivery status of your order. 

We hope to try to explain how the system works and dispel a few myths at the same time. 

Our UK delivery options at the time of writing are as follows:

  • UK Economy Delivery - 3-5 working days
  • Premium - 1st Class Tracked or similar - 1-3 working days
  • Express - Next Working Day

There are two important points to understand here: 

  1. The delivery times shown are Royal Mail's delivery aim - Therefore, times quoted are ESTIMATES ONLY and are not guaranteed, and therefore should be used as a guide only
  2. Delivery time stated is from the point of dispatch, not from the point the order was received.

Deliveries are estimated for several reasons. First of all we do not operate a delivery service - like most other companies we use an outside carrier, such as Royal Mail. Nobody can guarantee a delivery time because it can depend on a very long list of potential problems, from vehicles breaking down, stuck in a lengthy traffic jam or driver taken ill, to problems due to bad weather, staff shortages or machinery breakdowns. So it's impossible for us to quote delivery times for a service oiperated by another company, and therefore which is obviously completely beyond our control. 

Delivery times are given from the point of dispatch, not the time you placed the order. We aim to dispatch all orders on the same working day if ordered by 2 p.m. (not including weekends and bank holidays, in which case your order will usually be dispatched next working day where possible).

However there are times when we may be so busy that it is physically impossible to dispatch same day. We might also have issues that prevent us from doing so - for example, not long ago we lost our broadband facility for over three days due to a problem with the underground cabling, which required repair by BT. 

So anything can happen that prevents dispatch and delivery when you expect it to arrive. 

What people expect

Unfortunately a small minority of people do not understand that delays can happen and don't really care as long as they get their goods. So comments like this are not unusual:

  • "You promised to deliver this on Tuesday"
  • "You said it would be here in 3 days." 
  • "It is your responsibility to make sure it gets here on time!"
  • "You're just making excuses"

Unfortunately, most online businesses are encountering an increase in abusive and aggressive behaviour from customers, which is totally unacceptable. 

  • We do not and never have operated a delivery service
  • We do not and never have made a delivery "promise"
  • We do not and never have quoted a delivery time or date.

Remember we don't operate a delivery company. We use the services provided by one of the major carriers on your behalf. We have no control over how they operate and certainly have no control over anything that might delay your delivery. So there's no way we can guarantee their service.

So what happens now?

As per the details in our Terms of Sale, if your order has not arrived we have to allow "10 working days from the point of expected delivery"

Those are the terms laid down by Royal Mail, and should we use a different carrier (as we may do from time to time at our discretion), they will operate under similar terms.  

 

So basically if you ordered and selected the default Free Economy delivery service, we have to allow up to 5 working days for the item to arrive THEN allow a further 10 working days. 

This is because if mail is held up in a backlog - the most common cause for delays - or is misdirected (and this often happens because the address given is incorrect or incomplete) then it can take several days to clear or to get back "on track", so if you haven't received your item with 3-4 working days then unfortunately it could take some time. 

It is important to understand the following:

  • There is absolutely nothing we can do if your item is delayed - the carriers handle tens of millions of items a day so if yours is missing I'm sorry, but nobody is going to go out and look for it. We simply have to wait for it to work it's way through the system. 
  • Tracking numbers won't tell you where your item is or when it will be delivered, or get it there any faster. In fact the only real purpose of tracking numbers is so that the retailer can confirm delivery. 
  • As frustrating as it might be, we can not do anything until the "10 working day" rule has passed, at which point we can file a claim with the carrier and either refund you or replace the item.

 

Please understand that just as it is for you, it is just as annoying and frustrating, and also time consuming and expensive for us when an item is reported missing - in fact we often lose the goods and the payment where a customer requires a refund, so please do not be angry or post arrogant or abusive messages - we don't want your item to be delayed any more than you do, it's not in our interest.

But at the same time there's nothing more we can do - we have no more idea than you do where the item is, and we can't do anything to get it to you any faster - and yes, even "Next Day" Special Delivery items go missing from time to time.

Please be patient, allow enough time for potential delays and of course, contact us again at the relevant time so that we can file a claim and resolve the matter for you. 

Finally, do remember that it is completely beyond our control, nobody is trying to scam you, that's why we use established payment processors such as PayPal who include a money back guarantee and would soon get rid of any retailer with a high number of claims. 

And please do bear in mind that contrary to what seems to be popular belief the pandemic is STILL having an effect on services everywhere, tens of thousands of people are still being tested positive, including many Royal Mail staff, which has lead to entire sorting offices being closed and huge backlogs in some areas.

Even if the mail service in your area is running smoothly, your mail has to pass through several sorting offices around the country, one or more of which may have problems, so just because that item you ordered from Hull and the one you ordered from Birmingham arrived "on time" doesn't mean everything will. 

Contacting us

 

Whenever you do need to contact us please remember, we're a small family business, not amazon. That means we work with limited resources and simply do not have the staff to answer phones and emails at all hours 7 days a week. As incredible as it seems, many people don't seem to understand that the internet works for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But humans do not. So we operate general office hours

  • Our office hours are typically 8:30 - 6pm weekdays,
  • 9 - 1pm Saturdays.
  • Closed Sundays and Bank Holidays. 

So if you try to call or send an email over the weekend or in the evening then you're probably not going to get a response straight away. It doesn't mean we're ignoring you. 

Additionally it's not going to happen until we get more important issues resolved - such as dispatching orders. Every retail business operates in a similar way - it's GOOD PRACTICE, not poor customer service as many appear to believe. Because you wouldn't expect your order to be dispatched a day late because we had too many messages and phone calls to respond to would you? 

All about dispatch

What this also means is if you order at 4 p.m. and pay for Express Next Day delivery, and expect your order on your doorstep the next morning there's a very good chance you're going to be disappointed. Because no retailer is going to pack up your parcel and run down to the post office just in time before it closes.

In fact it's not unusual to find people who order as late as 11 p.m. yet expect delivery the next day. Probably because it's something that some of the multinationals can do to a point, and because people don't understand the logistics involved they think if the likes of Amazon can do it, so can we. 

Unfortunately it simply doesn't work like that. It's also expensive, so if you ordered a 99p sim card it's not going to happen - remember, even Amazon have a £20 minimum and the rule is there for a reason. 

Our deadline is around 2 p.m. weekdays. That is the latest time we can accept an order for same day dispatch, and that's not a guaranteed time because it depends how busy we are. It's as simple as that. 

This has to be done at a certain time because, like most online retailers, our mail is collected and it needs to be prepared and ready for the carrier. This means that ALL our orders need to be packed, weighed, labelled, bagged up into mailbags ready for collection. Then there is an amount of paperwork to be done in time for the collection driver, so that he knows what he is collecting and we know what we are dispatching.

So hopefully you now understand why we don't simply jump up and grab your order, pack it and run of to the post office with it as soon as it comes in. Because we can't!

 

Customer abuse

Weekends are even worse, because some people order on a Saturday and expect delivery on a Sunday, despite the fact that Royal Mail have never delivered on a Sunday in their centuries-old existence. The bad news is their order most likely won't even be dispatched until Monday because that's the earliest we can send it. But that's the norm, it's not a fault on our part, it's not "poor service".

In fact just a few days before writing this we had a classic example from a chap who placed a £9 order late on a Saturday night, used the free Economy delivery service then complained because he didn't get it until Wednesday.

So let's work that out. 

- Ordered Saturday night. 

- Earliest possible dispatch date is Monday.

- 3-5 Day Economy Delivery selected

- Delivered Wednesday morning, just 2 working days later. 

Yet he complained about that, claiming it was late. That wasn't all. He tried to call us, at 12:20, round about lunchtime and got an answerphone message. He left no message, name or contact details to enable us to call him back and made no other attempt to contact us. 

Within a few minutes of trying to call he opened a case on PayPal claiming we were trying to scam him. Yes, all because he made ONE phone call, left NO contact details, made NO attempt to contact us by email, and then thinks we're trying to scam him just because nobody was available to take his call. 

Notwithstanding a barrage of foul and abusive language, accusations and so on, and not even taking into consideration the fact that since he hadn't left any message or tried to contact us in any other way meant that we weren't even aware that his problem existed, he somehow arrives at the conclusion that we're trying to scam him! 

He then lied to PayPal, claiming that he had contacted us and we hadn't replied (we can't reply if we don't even know you've tried to get in touch - as they say the impossible is fine but miracles take a little longer) - he then convinced himself it was all our fault for not answering the phone! 

This is a rare example, yet it's also a regular occurrence. It can be the slightest of problems and rather than allow us the chance to get back to them and have a little patience, this group of people's actions vary from "spitting their dummy out" to being threatening and abusive. Sadly the same crowd are often liable to leave bad reviews telling everyone what a bad bunch we are, and in the vast majority of cases we're not even aware there's a problem!

Even something as simple as a "late" delivery can spark a similar reaction from these people. 

The galling thing is we get accusations from a minority of people who think we're ripping them off because we "took their money" for Next Day delivery and didn't deliver - it's as absurd as it sounds, not least because the payment for such services goes to the carrier in any event, not to us. We even subsidise our Premium and Express services in many cases so we're even paying part of the fee for you. It's also totally unacceptable behaviour.

 

 

Regarding staff shortages, when the pandemic hit, it left a lot of businesses in lockdown and those who were allowed to keep trading - such as Royal Mail - were very badly hit by staff shortages and illness. This situation was made worse when social distancing measures at work had to be put in place.

Obviously this much disruption was always going to hit services like deliveries badly. Then the problem got much worse, because the lockdowns meant millions more people were now buying online. As a result the carriers, including Royal Mail, had even more work to do with less staff. Yet many people could not understand and refused to accept that there would be delays. 

Now think about it, you're normally busy at work. Then half the staff are laid off, furloughed, but you still have the same amount of work to do. If you only just got your workload completed throughout the day before all this happened, you're now probably not likely to. So a backlog starts to build up.

All of a sudden the country enters a lockdown phase, everyone starts buying online and there are now tens of millions MORE parcels to deliver. So your backlog gets even bigger. This is where we were in the autumn of 2020. Then Black Friday sales and the build up to Christmas sales, almost all of which were being done online, meant that the backlog of mail got even bigger.

I've seen for myself a sorting office with just THREE staff working, packed right to the ceiling with thousands of grey mail sacks, each containing what could be up to a thousand parcels and letters. I've seen a major sorting office with 17 articulated wagons queued up in the streets outside, full of mail, because there's no space left in the sorting office to unload them and/or no staff to do it. 

 

 

Summary

So please remember if your item is taking longer than you think it should have, there could be a hundred reasons for that. If you've given a valid email address and you've received a dispatch email then your order has been dispatched. 

- It is not the seller's fault if an item has been lost or delayed. We have no control over any of the delivery couriers and we only employ them on your behalf.

- The seller really can't tell you where your item is. Items are only tracked at the point of collection and the point of delivery.

- Items DO get delayed and can take weeks to get back on track rather than just a day or two.

- There ARE currently severe delays in many areas and yes, Covid IS a large part of the problem.

- Items DO get lost in the mail - literally millions of them every year.

- We will deal with the issue on a case by case basis but there is no quick fix when these issues occur. 

- You must allow a reasonable amount of time before your item is declared missing - at least 10 working days from the point of expected delivery as defined by Royal Mail. This forms part of the terms and conditions of sale.

- You can help by treating us as you would expect to be treated yourself, i.e. politely and courteously. You must NOT be abusive, arrogant or accusatory to retailers and their staff. We're all doing our best, all we can do is pack and post, we lose a lot more than you do when an item goes missing and the last thing we want and need is aggravation, accusations and abuse.

Finally I must add that if anybody is guilty of such actions they will be immediately blocked from the site, and from our contact email account and phone service without further notice. Abusive emails will also be reported to their service provider and the relevant authorities. Please treat others as you would expect to be treated yourself. 

Thank you, and congratulations if you made it this far!